Handling Conflict During the Probate Process: Mediation and Resolution

Handling Conflict During the Probate

There are a number of different obstacles that frequently present themselves once a loved one passes away and their estate is distributed. When various estate disputes arise, trying to resolve them can be difficult as this is a period where emotions are high; however, such disputes must be dealt with promptly peacefully and fairly. When dividing an estate, there are plenty of challenges and as such, problems between siblings, other family members or ex-partners can arise. If your family is interested in trying to avoid these kinds of challenges, it can be easy to do so, so long as certain steps are taken in an effort to prevent different conflicts. The different means by which conflict can be resolved are going to be discussed in greater detail below. 

Plan The Estate Properly

One of the first steps you should do when it comes to resolving the different issues that can occur throughout the probate process occurs before the death takes place. Proper planning goes a long way when it comes to the distribution of an estate as by having a Will which clearly outlines how the estate should be divided and where various assets should go, you are able to stop any unnecessary conflict from ever arising. The Will needs to be valid in order to avoid disputes, which means ensuring it is appropriately witnessed and is also validated. If at any point it appears the assets that make up the estate are divided unequally then the Will shall state the reasoning which will help avoid any unwanted estate disputes.

If Disputes Arise Consult a Mediator

Even if there is a Will in place, inevitably, disputes can still happen throughout the probate process. If this is the case and there is an ongoing disagreement that doesn’t look like it will be resolved then one of the first things you should do is hire a mediator. A mediator is an affordable way that you will be able to work out the various differences between both parties and try to find an amicable way to overcome them. A mediator will cost money but this will come to less than having a legal battle and they may be all that is needed in order to find a way out of the ongoing dispute.

Consider Potentially Liquidating Assets

A common problem that can arise in an estate is the value of different assets. For instance, if one child is given the family home, this might come to more than what is given to the other child, even if the parents try to divvy out assets as fairly as they possibly can. This can also be a problem when estates don’t have a Will in place because this can often mean there is no way to divide assets in a way that will be entirely equal for all parties involved.

One of the most effective ways that this conflict can be resolved is to liquidate the assets which make up the estate so that the proceeds can then be divided equally as they have a clear monetary value. Dividing up the money is a lot easier than dividing up the assets themselves and as such, this can be an excellent way to resolve any disputes which might arise.

Pick an Independent Fiduciary

If there is a Will in place then chances are there has been an executor named. An executor can be helpful when it comes to dividing up the estate; however, if they are not impartial then their appointment can also be controversial and lead to disputes. The person named as the executor in the Will does not have to carry out their duties and instead is able to decline the appointment so that they can then appoint an independent fiduciary. Some of the best options can be an estate-planning attorney or another lawyer who will be able to properly see out the role. If there is a chance for controversy because of who has been appointed as the executor, appointing someone independent to take care of things can stop disputes and keep everything neutral.

Divide Household Items in a Fair Way

Another common dispute happens not because of the value of certain items but because of the sentiment that they might hold. The dining room table is not just a figure, it is where various family memories were made, as such, more than one person in the family might want to keep it, and arguments can arise over who it should go to. When this happens, families need to find a fair way that they can divide household items so that disputes are kept to a minimum.

There is no right way to do this, and parties should be aware they likely won’t get everything they want in the division of household items. One of the best ways to go about splitting up the household items is for family members to take it in turns choosing what they would like to keep. There should be an order decided and then all family members will get the opportunity to go around the house in order to claim the different items that they would like to keep. There is a clear preference for whoever gets to go first and as such, a more risky but even fairer way to decide can be to write the disagreed items down and then use some kind of lottery system to assign them. Each person can pick a piece of paper and the items can be divided that way. Again, if disputes arise throughout this process, it could be best to get a mediator involved.

Do You Need Help Throughout the Probate Process?

As can be seen above, the probate process is complex and can lead to various disputes. If you need assistance throughout the probate process then you should consider reaching out to organisations such as Probates Online. Probates Online and our team of experts will be able to help you over these various hurdles. If you have any questions or require any further information then do not hesitate to get in touch.